The policy advice, entitled ‘(NOT) AN UNLUCKY GENERATION’, ends with an appeal to Minister Dijkgraaf from Education, Culture and Science to take action. The campaign group wants to see change in several areas.
The document contains three proposals to compensate students who have not received a basic student grant since 2015. The solutions vary from direct compensation of 15,000 euro to converting the study voucher into a discount on debt repayment.
A recurring theme in each proposal is that student debt should have no effect on obtaining a mortgage, that students should never be registered with the Central Credit Registration Office (BKR) and that students should be better informed about the potential consequences of taking on debt.
Misled by Bussemaker
According to the campaign group, the current generation of students is at a serious disadvantage. Each student used to receive a basic student grant of up to 283 euro. That changed in 2015. Since then, some 5.5 million students have fallen under the student loan system. Compared to the basic student grant period, these students collectively lost out on between 5.27 billion and 18.4 billion euros per academic year. At the same time, student debt levels have tripled and students are given hardly any information about the risks of this.
According to the document, the so-called unlucky generation of students under the student loan system have been misled by the promises of former Education Minister, Jet Bussemaker. She was actually unable to keep to her promises.
Her first promise was that it would be cheaper to repay debt under the student loan system. That’s correct, but according to campaigners that’s not the whole story. Former students now have to repay a smaller portion of their debt each month, but since debts have increased immensely, the amount is still the same.
Another promise was that student debt would not affect any mortgage application they made later. But now mortgage lenders are allowed to request a verification document with financial information on student debt. That’s why the authors of the report call the mortgage problems a ‘disguised BKR registration’.
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How are the millions of euros saved by abolishing student grants being spent?
Between 2015 and 2018, Dutch universities were supposed to allocate millions of euros to…
The most important condition for the House of Representatives in introducing the student loan system was that the money that became available would be invested in education. The government has not done enough to safeguard this. It’s also something that is difficult to verify, as additional investments and already planned investments in educational administration have been combined. This was shown in research conducted previously by the Netherlands Court of Audit.
Finally, the student loan system was supposed to promote equality of opportunity in the student protest generation, as the threshold for repaying debt would remain low and the supplementary grant would remain in place. According to research by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) this hasn’t happened and fewer young people with an impairment, migrant background or from less educated parents have started studying. The progression from secondary vocational education to university of applied sciences level has also stagnated because young people do not want to borrow.
Studentenprotest is not alone. Campaigners from the group protested with almost eight thousand other students in Amsterdam last Saturday for more compensation for the student loan system generation.